Bradford: Three years later, remembering why the Red Sox hired Alex Cora in the first place


It was three years ago exactly.

Alex Cora was named a manager of the Red Sox.

When he was introduced at that Fenway Park press conference it would have been impossible to dream up a scenario that ultimately took place over the course of these 731 days. A World Series win. A subsequent sad trombone of a season. A parting of the ways. And now the suggestion that we might be doing it all over again (via Zoom, of course.)

It's a good time to look back and remember the impetus for that that coronation of Cora. Why was he the right manager at that time? Why might he be the right manager at this time?

To have this conversation you have to start with a disclaimer: If you really have a problem with what Cora was part of with the Astros in 2017 then that's your prerogative. That goes for fans. That goes for the Red Sox front office. This part of the equation is also what will determine the substance of Chaim Bloom's conversation with Cora when Oct.29 rolls around.

But for those who want to get past the impetus for Cora's one-year suspension, it's a worthwhile exercise to use all of those accolades and analysis we were breaking out three years ago to decipher just how much the Red Sox should be prioritizing a reunion.

The reality is that the chief needs in the next Red Sox manager haven't changed all that much.

When Cora was hired a bit part of the equation was his ability to relate to the player. Walk out of the manager's office and into the clubhouse. Go onto the field and talk through dealing with the day-to-day existence of each position.

Baseball had changed. The separation between managers and players -- with bench coaches often times being the go-between -- diminished. This was about getting the most out of players by taking an anti-isolation stance. Cora understood that.

There was also the need to get these players playing better. Whether it was due to frame of mind, altering approach or embracing the evolution of analytics, Cora's task was to bring the likes of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez to the next level. For the most part, that mission was accomplished.

Those players wanted to play for Cora. And they still do.

Remember those questions back in that press conference: How are you going handle David Price? Are you too close to Dustin Pedroia? Will you be able to co-exist with Dave Dombrowski?

Check. Check. Check.

This time around? Different challenges. Different names. Same sort of challenges. But what we learned from Cora's two-year stint was that he has the skill-set to maneuver such landmines. And for every other candidate that might be considered, that will ultimately be an unknown.

Perhaps Bloom simply wants to continue his flushing of the organization, getting his guy to do it a different way. Fair enough. As we discovered in 2019, simply copying the same game-plan from one year to the next doesn't necessarily translate to long-term success.

But what can't be forgotten is that while there is a new chief baseball decision-maker, and plenty of new players, the guy who got the most out of a group that is still your core is available. And those newcomers? There were a few Red Sox newbies in 2018 and the year after who might offer a recommendation.

He was the best guy for that job then. He remains the best guy for this job now.